Lights Over Lapland – The Amazing Northern Lights

Seeing the Northern Lights was something I had dreamt about for many years. I had been to the south of Finland a few times but never took the opportunity to head further north. With Sweden on our itinerary this year, I decided I had to see THIS…

Photo by Lights Over Lapland

Photo by Lights Over Lapland

I’ve had quite a few people ask me how we got to Abisko to see the lights.
Further information is available at the end of this post. If you can’t wait until then, click here 😀 I hope it will help to make your trip to see the Northern Lights easier because EVERYONE should see them!

It’s quite a big deal heading north of the Arctic Circle from sunny Australia to take a chance on seeing a natural phenomenon, but the journey there is half the fun.

After a little online research I found Lights over Lapland. Run by Chad and Linnea Blakely, they are based in Abisko National Park with a reported 98% success rate of seeing the lights. The location and natural design of the national park provides more clear nights than any other viewing area. It sounded like the perfect place with the perfect tour.

They are rated the #1 Activity in Abisko on TripAdvisor. I’ve added my two cents worth to their reviews. I thought they were amazing.

Within 24 hours of sending my booking request from my lounge room at home in Australia, I received a friendly reply from Linnea with further details. I had so many questions, some of them completely unrelated to the tour, that Linnea happily answered promptly. She made me feel like I had made the right decision.

We were concerned as to what the terrain would be like when walking at night in the snow in a national park. Chad was quite happy to meet with us to discuss any concerns regarding this the day before the tour.

We booked to stay at Abisko Turistation in Abisko National Park. I knew it was going to be dark when our train arrived just after 4pm and I liked the fact that the hotel was located directly across the road from the railway station. Being the base for the Lights over Lapland tour made it even more attractive. It was very convenient and had a very calming atmosphere with some great places to sit back and relax.

Abisko Turistation

We decided to stay in Abisko National Park for two nights. We had originally requested to do the tour on our first night when Linnea emailed us and asked if we would mind changing to our second night. I am a great believer that things happen for a reason and was more than happy to change. I am really pleased that I did.

We arrived on a Monday in the middle of a snow storm. The sky could not have been cloudier. We went outside but we couldn’t see the lights. The weather forcast for the next day was for more snow. We tried to sleep but I think we spent more time peering out through the window of our hotel room.

We saw Chad and Linnea the following day at the hotel. Chad’s optimism that we would see the lights did not waiver. I thought that was great. I had no doubt we would see the lights. His optimism only helped to build mine.

As we were there in November, there were no external activities for us to do during the day. To amuse ourselves we stepped outside to play in the glorious snowfall. It was so invigorating! We also made good use of the free Wifi at the hotel, sharing photos of our fun in the cold snow with our friends who were back home sweltering in 40 degree heat before finding a nice, warm nook to curl up in for a while in front of the fire.

Abisko National Park  - Fun in the Snow

We met Chad and the others in our tour group in the foyer of the hotel at 8.00pm. Ski suits were provided along with preset cameras. I highly recommend hiring boots as well. We were toasty warm!

Chad made us all feel welcome and ensured that we were all individually prepared for the tour. He explained how our cameras worked and shared his story about how the Lights over Lapland tour had developed. As we walked, he provided information not only on the lights but also the surrounding area. The walk to the lake was quite easy.

Once arriving at our destination by the lake, Chad helped everyone individually to set their cameras. While we were waiting for the lights to appear, we practised taking photos with different shutter speeds. Even without the Northern Lights, there were some really nice photos being taken.

Northern Lights - Waiting....

The sky started to clear. Someone reported seeing a green haze in one of their photos. It was the start of the Northern Lights show! While the aurora was still difficult to see with the naked eye, the camera lense proved otherwise. We were capturing photos of the Northern Lights!

This went on for a while and I did begin to wonder if we would actually see anything without the cameras. While the images went from a light green haze to bright green streaks in our photos, they were still extremely faint to the naked eye. Was what I had been looking at in photos for all of these years purely photography based?

Slowly, the sky continued to clear and the Northern Lights started to become visible. They were still faint but now we could actually see them without the cameras. Eventually, we could see strong stripes of light across the sky. It was amazing, even with the clouds.

Northern Lights - Appearing

Before too long it was 11.00pm. It was time to pack up and head back. No one wanted to leave. We were having too much fun. We took our time in packing our cameras away.

While slowly walking back, Chad stopped, asked us to all switch off our headlamps and to look at the sky. It was a sight I will never forget. It was the Northern Lights in its full spectacular glory. This is what we had all come to see and it was amazing.

Photo courtesy of Lights over Lapland

Photo courtesy of Lights over Lapland

Shortly after this photo was taken, we saw the classic curtain of lights dancing across the sky. My dream had finally come true.

I will definitely be back. It still feels like a dream. I am still pinching myself. It’s very tempting to learn photography and become a Northern Lights photographer….

If you do decide to take the journey to see the Northern Lights, go with an open mind. It is a natural phenomenon so there are no guarantees, but if you have an open mind, you will have a better chance of seeing them than if you don’t.

I am now planning on heading south to see the Southern Lights next winter. Beware….aurora chasing is addictive…

Tips

  • Plan ahead and book well in advance
  • Going in November is great as it’s the off season and there aren’t too many people around but you do need to know how to amuse yourself during the day. The national park has some nice walks. The Aurora Sky Station is only open Thursday – Saturday. Getting there is also remarkably cheaper.
  • Going from December onwards during peak season would be great if you would like to do other things like dogsledding, etc. The Aurora Sky Station is open throughout the season.
  • Wear woollen thermal underwear. Don’t wear cotton as it absorbs your sweat and then freezes. Wool doesn’t absorb body odour.
  • A fleece layer over your thermals and then a waterproof outer layer will help to keep you warm. Make sure your clothes aren’t too tight. A little air between layers is a good thing. Ski suits are provided on the tour. Boot hire is optional but highly recommended.
  • You’ll need to take an SD card to put into the camera to store your photos.
  • Take a torch to help with getting around outside in the dark. This is helpful when walking from the train station to the hotel. Headlamps are provided on the tour. A red light will help you to retain your nightvision

I have had quite a few people ask me how we got there as they have found it a little confusing with so much information available on the internet, so, here it is 😀

How We Got There

Lights Over Lapland Nightly Photographic Tour
Visit www.lightsoverlapland.com and make a booking enquiry. Linnea will respond with further details. Be sure to check out their other options if you would like to do a longer tour over several nights.

Flights
We flew SAS from Amsterdam to Kiruna via Copenhagen and Stockholm. Their service was efficient and our bags were checked all of the way through, so we didn’t have to pick them up when changing from International to Domestic. Our first flight left Amsterdam at 7.00am and we arrived in Kiruna at 1.05pm. Search flights for the quickest and easiest route from where you are flying from in Europe as some can be quite long. Alternatively, stay a few nights in Stockholm on the way to cut down on long travel times.

Train
I booked the train from Kiruna Station to Abisko Turistation online at www.sj.se. Please note that there are two stations in Abisko – Abisko Ö (1st station – Abisko Östra) and Abisko Turistation (2nd station – this is the one you want). The conductor on the train was very helpful with information about the stations and how to get to our hotel. To get to the hotel from the station, you need to walk from the platform down into the small car park, around to your right and under the tracks.

Taxi
I booked the taxi online at www.flygtaxi.se. You also have the option of booking a taxi when you book the train. As our flight arrived at 1.05pm and the train was leaving just after 2.30pm, I booked a taxi to ensure a smooth journey. Our driver arrived just as we collected our bags. We were at the train station an hour before it departed, but better that than rushing. Our taxi driver was very friendly and helpful with information about the area and the trains.

To book a taxi –

  • Select ‘Booking’ from the menu
  • Click ‘Add’ next to Taxi/Transfer Trips
  • In the ‘From’ box, select ‘Flight’ from the drop down menu and add your flight details
  • In the ‘To’ box, type in ‘Kiruna Järnvägsstation, Kiruna Tätort’ and click ‘Search’. Select it again from the search options.
  • Your options will then appear in the ‘Product’ box –
  • – Select a ‘Delad’ taxi if you are travelling alone but are willing to share with other passengers
    – Select an ‘Egan’ taxi if you would like a private taxi (up to four people or if you have a lot of luggage)
    – Select a ‘Stor’ taxi if you have a large group up to six passengers
  • If your flight arrival details don’t automatically appear in the ‘Pick Up’ box, type them in. I also added a note to stay that I was catching the 14.39 train from Kiruna Station. Kiruna is a small domestic airport so it doesn’t take long to collect your luggage. Our taxi driver arrived just as we collected ours. His timing couldn’t have been more perfect!
  • You will then be asked to add ‘Passenger Details’. You only need to add the details of one passenger.
  • Proceed to confirmation and follow the prompts for payment details.

Hotels
I booked Abisko Turistation online. The staff at the hotel were very friendly and the facilities were clean and tidy. The food was organic and it was amazing!

We stayed one night in Kiruna upon our return as our flights didn’t co-ordinate with the train. We stayed at the Hotell Samegarde. It would have to be THE cleanest hotel I have ever stayed in and Eva was very helpful, right from the booking stage (she immediately emailed me as soon as she received our booking to confirm a bedding request for me). That said, the aurora ratings were quite high that night and the sky was clear. There was the possibility that the lights could be seen in Kiruna so it might be an option to select a hotel on the outskirts of town where there are less lights for another chance to see the Northern Lights.

I have to see the auroras again. In the meantime, I’ll watch this video that was filmed by Lights Over Lapland just two weeks before we arrived –

If you need any more inspiration to see the Northern Lights, ‘Like’ the Lights over Lapland Facebook page. The regular photo updates of their recent auroras are magnificient.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

2 Responses to Lights Over Lapland – The Amazing Northern Lights

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *